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Bardwells electronic shop has closed

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After 70 years of trading the electronic parts shop N R Bardwells of Abbeydale Road has closed down.

I had some great experiences in that shop. I remember one occasion going in for an equivalent transistor. The guy on the counter looked around the back and said we have not got one of those. Will an equivalent do? So I told him it was an equivalent to such and such. He said we have one of those, you didn't think we would have it did you?

I always used to avoid going in Saturdays. Some kids were in ordering parts. One at a time! It took ages to get served.

Another time the guy said a part was a expensive. I asked how much? So he said £2.50! He thought that was expensive
Mind you the shop was so cheap for parts.

The staff was so helpful too. If they didn't know one of their regular customers would chip in or the guy would ask them!

 

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Damn...

Built my first mixing desk out of parts from Bardwells, it didn't pick up radio long enough for me to get a Design & Technology A-Level. In fact I've still got a really ropey looking selection of voltage regulators that one of the guys (Reg ?) gave me nearly 30 years ago...

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Really sad, only found this out today. I first went there when they were open on Sellars Street, full of old army surplus equipment, brilliant for getting parts from. Bought a digital clock board and perspex case for it in the '70's from a box under the counter, it didn't work of course but after a bit of fault finding I got it going, it has 'nixie' tubes for the display, and all these years later it's still going strong, best £5 I spent. Reg was a right character, big into model railways and always larking about, it got him into trouble a few times!

I suppose the internet has put paid to most of their business, plus the fact that not many people seem to be interested in making electronic things these days, its all computers.

The best thing was they knew their stuff, could always find equivalents and were willing to help out if you didn't quite know what you needed, and they always had the bits you couldn't find elsewhere.

Nigel L

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I think the main problem is that people don't repair things as much these days, they just chuck them in the bin. Certainly people are not looking for the small parts that Bardwell's stocked. They had a website, but it wasn't very good. It needed a lot more doing to make it competitive. 

The only real market out there would be LCD TV replacement boards, I think. In a modern TV there are no more than four to five circuit boards. You find out what's wrong with the set and replace the board. The only problem is that the boards would be costly to buy in and would take up more space than the shop that Bardwell's had. Some sites offer the boards out of TV's where the LCD screen was damaged, so that cuts down on costs. But if you have a big warehouses out in the country (like Amazon do). The rates and expenses of a small shop in Sheffield are just not economic enough to compete with them.  

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I am shocked to hear that Bardwells has finally closed. As a boy back in the 1950's I used to buy parts to make old crystal radio receivers from a stall in the market. The stall owner was a Mr Bardwell. After serving an electrical apprenticeship I found that he now had a shop on Sellars Street, later on they moved to Abbeydale Road. For years whenever I went there it was full of customers. If you needed a small component to repair a machine the first port of call was Bardwells as it saved having to wait whilst the required component was mailed to you and arriving a few days later. Some of the firms I worked for even had accounts with Bardwells so you could just provide a signature. However recently when I went in to get something I was amazed to  see how empty the shop was. I suspect that in the modern era those interested in electronics would be dealing with computers and no longer be making up their own electronics boards.

Sad to hear of our loss

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We at Repair Sheffield always used Bardwells when we had one of our Reapair Cafe events at Heeley City Farm. There's an event coming up this Saturday and not being able to nip down to Bardwells for some obscure small part to repair an old item someone brings in could be a real problem for us. I was last in there two months ago looking for some capacitors for an old tube radio and was really surprised when they said "we don't have any of those these days." Maybe that was the beginning of the end?

I definitely think there's a great little niche business oportunity for someone to recreate Bardwells shop. People definitely do still want components, especially now with the resurgence in interest in electronics brought about by things like Raspberry Pis and Arduinos.

We need more little independent shops selling bits and pieces like this, not less.

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Thing is there's no way an independent shop can compete with the likes of CPC/Farnell/RS/Rapid, even eBay. The amount of stock required to attract a customer base is phenomenal. I remember when you had to apply for a Farnell account, so if you needed odd bits & pieces places like Bardwells had their niche, with the rise of ecommerce, that niche has all but disappeared

Here's a picture I dragged off their Facebook page, hope they don't mind me reposting here for posterity...

 

Edit: I've started trying to compare the two photos - there's bound to be something on a shelf or hung up that appears in both !

 

NR Bardwell.jpg

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Bit late to add to this topic, but only just come across it. I was only chatting to my Dad the other week and said to him, 'Bardwells will have one', obviously not knowing they were now closed.

In the late 70's, early 80s I got into electronics as a 10 year old. Spent most of my pocket money there buying components. There was nothing that they didn't know about anything electronic ! or so it seemed to me back then. Even though I was obviously much much younger than most of their customers, and had relatively no knowledge, they always treated me with respect and were very helpful.

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I only ever went in once or twice.....was assisting with a CCTV install at work and our guy had a van full of kit but ran out out of BNC’s on a Saturday and it was raining! A quick nip into to town to Bardwell’s and a few quid later, I’m on my way back with a paper bag full of them. 

Such a shame it’s gone. 

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The man second in from the left in the Star picture above, was Peter Blake (blakey) A very good friend to everyone who knew him. On the CB '27 MHz' his handle was (spoon bender) he could bend spoons as Uri Geller did at the time. He was always under his Mk 2 Ford Cortina (Not Uri Geller) scraping away at the under seal to reinstate it with hamerite. That car was in showroom condition and an envy to the locals. After hameriting it all underneath it was rotten within a year.. Peter worked at Bardwells in the late 80's and the management accused him of stealing (As I was told). He was a very very honest person and could not live with the thought of being accused of doing such a thing... He took his own life shortly afterwards.

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In the late 1980s a "friend" was involved in pirate radio. One day, shortly before the station was due to start transmitting, the transmitter broke down: one of the transistors had blown. Aparrently it was a very unusual component but a quick trip down to Bardwells for an equivalent part and the station was soon back on air. I remember them being very helpful and also inquisitive as to what exactly we would need such a part for. It's a shame that shops like this are no longer around.

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It was a sad day when Bardwells closed, as a schoolkid in the early 70s I used to get taken there by the science teacher to buy components for projects, In the late 70s I was a sales rep, selling the same sort of components back to them!. Happy days.

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Another reason for the demise of Bardwell's was that discrete components like transistors, resistors, capacitors etc are very often all in dedicated microchips these days so the pleasure of building an electronic device from discrete components is no more, sadly.

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